In this episode: Maddison Fairbairn, Channel Sales Specialist at Auvik Networks, joins us to share how she successfully made the jump into tech sales. How was she able to start a sales mentorship club? Where did her inspiration for YSP come from? And how does she plan to grow the sales community in the next year?
In This Episode: Maddison Fairbairn, Channel Sales Specialist At Auvik Networks, On How She Successfully Made The Jump Into Tech Sales, Starting A Sales Mentorship Club etc.
Welcome to seller’s journey, the podcast where we speak to great sales reps and leaders and share their real stories from start to sales success.
Joseph Fung: Hi everybody, I’m Joseph Fung, and today I have a great pleasure of speaking with Maddison Fairbairn. She’s a Channel Sales Specialist at Auvik Networks. Maddison, how are you doing?
Maddison Fairbairn: I’m doing great. Thanks so much for having me.
Joseph Fung: Well, thank you for joining us. I’m glad to have a little bit of your time.
Maddison Fairbairn: You too!
Joseph Fung: So, you’re at Auvik in Channel Sales. Can you tell me a little bit about what your role entails?
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah, so on our channel team here; we work with companies that serve a similar target market that we do. So I do a lot of co-leading sales programs for our software that tie into their integration as well.
Joseph Fung: Cool! Now your experience is a lot like a lot of our audience, our other guests. But part of the reason I’m so delighted to have you on the call today is you’ve also started an organization to help people in their sales journey. Can you share a little bit about YSP?
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah, definitely! So YSP is Young Sales Professionals I actually met with a colleague that kind of happened into sales similar the way I did, and I found a lot of people did when we were meeting people, and I wanted to create a better system for people to get on board kind of understand it as a career and just connect to the network with like-minded peers.
Joseph Fung: Awesome! I’m really looking forward to coming back to YSP during our conversation. But we do like to focus on the journey so let’s take a step back, and you know to go earlier and kind of get back to the beginning. Can you share with our audience, where’d you grow up? Where’d you go to school?
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah, so, I grew up in Owen Sound, Ontario. It’s a small-town kind of close to Collingwood and between there and Sauble Beach. Came to Waterloo for University. I actually took Bachelors in Science. Right after graduating, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. So I worked as a Dental Assistant for three months, and that’s when I quickly realized I wanted something more dynamic, something where I could contribute to the company a little bit more and make a difference, and that’s when I happened into a BDR role at Auvik and from there, just kind of fell in love with the idea of sales as a whole and what an impact it can make.
Joseph Fung: I love the way you phrase that you know, happened to fall into a role as a BDR, I mean I don’t know if it’s you had a client, or you know someone from Auvik, was implicate dental, what was the story? I’m so intrigued.
Maddison Fairbairn: So, I was working at my current job, and you know just not having a good time, so I was applying to absolutely anything, probably applied to 100 jobs in everything from sales to marketing to working in a lab just anything, that thing my current role and then when I got the interview at Auvik, and I met, Aeimher Stefani Skymer she was just someone that I knew I needed to work for. Just a great person and that’s kind of how it happened.
Joseph Fung: So I mean, I hear that story that kind of get me out of here feeling and when we spoke before you mentioned something about you know that balance you started in science and happened to get into salesas supposed to planning for it. Would you have done something different? If you were revisiting that journey?
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah if I was revisiting that journey, I probably would have still stuck in science at an early age. I think I’ve learned great things with research and kind of developing a voice. But then the biggest thing is probably would have taken some business classes to prepare me for what I am now. I’m planning a little bit at that.
Joseph Fung: Fair and I love how you spoke about your conversations and interviews with Mercedes. Not everybody who sends out those hundred resumes gets the interviews. What do you think you did differently than other candidates?
Maddison Fairbairn: You know what I have no idea because I had interviews above probably 100. It was a spraying brain method.
Joseph Fung: Well, you nailed it. What about Mercedes led you to say that was someone you had to work for?
Maddison Fairbairn: So the interview is very genuine compared to any other ones I’ve had earlier in life. It was literally just a conversation like, who are you? Where have you been? You know based on your resume you’re qualified, but I want to find out if you’re someone that I want to coach and work through with for your career.
Joseph Fung: That’s fantastic! Now as we talk about your career, you start as a BDR and then quickly advanced to the Sales Specialist role, and you spoke a little bit earlier about the circumstances that got you to founding YSP. Maybe you can share a bit about that. I’d love to understand the details a bit more.
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah so I actually connected with one of my classmates on LinkedIn and we saw that even though we both had a science undergrad, we ended up in a sales role. So we met up we’re networking and thought hey, this is actually really cool. I bet there’s a lot of about people out there that would like this opportunity to connect with peers and sort to actually build a network of people outside of their company. So especially earlier on you know the only people you know are the ones you work with every day and having a network is so important.
Joseph Fung: Now it’s a fairly young organization, but you’ve had incredible success. I remember you sharing some numbers. Can you share a little bit with our audience? And in terms of like the membership attraction because it’s quite impressive for this BDR it was just launched.
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah so we have been running for just under a year now we’ve had two-panel events and two social events. Our membership is almost at 250, and the last event we hosted was over a hundred people attended our panel event.
Joseph Fung: That’s a fantastic update. Congratulations, that’s a fantastic amount of progress.
Maddison Fairbairn: I think, yea!
Joseph Fung: Now, during that you talked about meeting a classmate or a colleague, one of the things that also stands out in the journey of women in tech sales is we often your comments about how their sales teams don’t have as many women as they want to when they’re looking for networks when they’re looking for peers. I know that you’ve only been at Auvik so far and so it may not be representative of you know the broader companies you work with or chat with, but if you encountered anything similar and you know, how does that feel?
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah so I mean we have less women than men on our sales team as most companies do. I think the biggest thing is the stigma around sales from the beginning, you know very competitive very cut through a type of attitude, which I think is actually changing, it’s becoming more of a nurturing process rather than that highly competitive atmosphere, which women do excel in that environment, the nurturing environment and teaching people the value and understanding your product. So I think we’ll see a change over the next couple of years, or at least I hope. But I think it’s really the student that’s lending it towards that currently.
Joseph Fung: So it sounds like you’re suggesting there’s an assumption that sales is gonna be really you know really aggressive maybe less nurturing, less supportive and as a result, you know women are taking and pursuing those opportunities as much, am I hearing that, right?
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah, I think so I mean I definitely thought that before I was in the role even when I started as a BDR, I didn’t think I wanted to actually become a sales or Account Manager and that changed pretty quickly once you actually learned what it was.
Joseph Fung: Can we dig in a little bit dig in there? You know, what did you think the role was gonna be like?
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah so I thought it was gonna be more of a like convince people to buy this product no matter what and that’s all that’s important. But it’s more about finding the right fit for your product whatever it is, and really teaching them what it is, how it works and figuring out if it is valuable and matching that up.
Joseph Fung: I like the way you phrase it that brings to mind you know the ideas of matchmaking as opposed to pushing something on someone.
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah.
Joseph Fung: Interesting. Now one of the things that we hear from a lot of our audience members as they embark and get into a sales journey is that they sometimes struggle to reconcile the very competitive environment of sales with their core beliefs and it sounds like you struggled similarly you know that sales role versus what you wanted for yourself. How do you reconcile those? And when you hear audience members, you know, questioning that, what thoughts come to mind for you?
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is believing in the product of the company that you’re working for whether it’s multiple or just one. It’s not really selling it, it’s just teaching people about it. And if you believe it’s gonna help their business or help their life it makes it a lot easier to really get in there and if you’re a competitive person, obviously you want to win, but it’s easier to do that when you believe in what you’re selling.
Joseph Fung: I like that idea that it’s easier to be you know competitive but authentic when you believe in the company in the product. I could see that. I would do want to come back to YSP, and I don’t want to keep you too long so let me switch gears to that you shared some of the growth you know some of the attraction. I would love to hear what are some of your goals? You know, what do you hope to accomplish in the coming year or two with YSP? Particularly, given the fact that, so many sellers are now selling remotely working from home, sheltering in place. What do you hope to accomplish?
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah, so I really want to keep that sense of community. Currently, we are very active in that Kitchener-Waterloo community. But hoping to branch that out to other cities as well, whether it be Toronto or California wherever it might take us. But just growing it as much as possible and really giving people a place or young sales professionals. I want people to be able to look at that, be like you know that’s something that I fit into as well.
Joseph Fung: So speaking about fitting in you know it’s often easier for people when they can empathize and see themselves in you know in their journey so why don’t we click a little bit into your journey?
Maddison Fairbairn: Yea!
Joseph Fung: When you think about your successes so far, I mean you’re early on, but you’ve had some great rules, you founded a great organization, you know, what stands out as an accomplishment you’re particularly proud of? What’s the headline that we can share when we’re introducing you?
Maddison Fairbairn: So, I feel like we’ve kind of already discussed it a little bit, but definitely starting YSP is a huge one. I’m also really proud of you know, the learning and work I’ve put into Auvik as well, you know helping build onboarding programs and that kind of thing. I really just wanted to learn as much as I can and share it with as many people as I can.
Joseph Fung: That’s an interesting one. I love the fact that you focused on the sharing, and we didn’t talk about that at all. If you can, maybe you can help us understand. What was it that you had to create that’s normally outside of the responsibilities of a like a BDR or a sales rep?
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah, so when I started, there was just a few things like we learned it all and power points and different videos and looking at the product itself. Whereas personally I wanted more of like a textbook resource of something you could refer back to, like a glossary of anything you needed to know, so I made it for myself as I was learning and taking notes, and then it evolved into a training document.
Joseph Fung: That’s fantastic. I imagine you’ve helped you’re not just yourself through that but a ton of others.
Maddison Fairbairn: I think yeah I actually get really excited because I still own the Google Doc. so anyone makes a problem or changes, I went like, oh yes, and they’re using it.
Joseph Fung: I love it! It’s so good. You just laid some point on you’ll find somebody who comes out of the dental industry and gets in Auvik, and it digs into your stories too, yes?
Maddison Fairbairn: Yea! Great!
Joseph Fung: Okay, so I know that I promised I wouldn’t keep you too long I’ve got just a couple more questions. You shared what you hope to accomplish with YSP. What about for you personally, if you cast your eyes forward 5-10 years, what do you hope to congratulate future medicine for?
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah, so that’s a really hard question. Obviously and for everybody…
Joseph Fung: But that’s a good one, I mean; I’m choosing good questions for this podcast.
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is, I almost want to set myself up as a jack, or I guess a Janet of all trades. I want to keep learning not just in sales and perfecting that craft, but you know sales enablement, marketing anything to do with revenue. Just learn as much as I can. Over the next ten years and hopefully, look back and be like, good job, you worked hard.
Joseph Fung: Nice! I love it. You know you’re one of the kinds of exciting and fortunate few people who have realized that they didn’t want their current role and they wanted to leap into you know tech sales. As you look back on how to making that leap and I’m sure you’ve heard this question for so many others. But what advice do you have for people who are similarly trying to make that leap? What should they keep in mind?
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is to look at your past experience and try to tie it into any of the role requirements. A lot of the times postings for sales roles will say you know one to two years of sales experience. But really anything customer-facing is the sales experience. So just think about you know what you’ve learned and how you can tie that into, what a potential employer, might be wanting from an employee.
Joseph Fung: Awesome okay, you have time for a couple of quick-fire wrapping questions before we go?
Maddison Fairbairn: Absolutely!
Joseph Fung: First of all! What’s your favorite sales tool?
Maddison Fairbairn: Sales loft.
Joseph Fung: Nice! Where sales loft shop as well so I can empathize with that?
Maddison Fairbairn: Yea! It’s Awesome!
Joseph Fung: Huge productivity lifts, a couple of it. Outside of work, movies. What’s your favorite movie?
Maddison Fairbairn: Favorite movie is, Clueless!
Joseph Fung: Nice! Now, I know your answer is not going to be a dental assistant. When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
Maddison Fairbairn: So I probably changed my mind about a hundred times when I was a kid. Pilot, interior designer, doctor, I was always jealous of my little sister, she was about four years old, and she wanted to be a shark when she grew up…
Joseph Fung: Oh wow, that’s pretty badass!
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah right!
Joseph Fung: Well, I’d say you’ve stayed true to it I mean if you were all those things, you definitely would be a Janet of all trades. So at least there are definitely some early indicators there.
Maddison Fairbairn: Yeah.
Joseph Fung: I said this has been such a delight. Thank you so much for joining us and sharing your story. Thank you!
Maddison Fairbairn: No problem! Thank you so much for having me.
Joseph Fung: My pleasure! I am looking forward to catching up at the next YSP event, and so I hope that you keep safe and sound and look forward to chatting again.
Maddison Fairbairn: I will! You as well!
Joseph Fung: Take care!
Maddison Fairbairn: Have a good one!